What to do when your chicken breaks a nail

It happens to all of us – here’s how to deal with your chook losing a nail.

It’s not common for birds to break, tear, or even completely remove a nail, but they’re more at risk if their nails are long or overgrown, which is more likely in older birds. A hen that has been broody and sitting on a nest for a long time may also have overgrown nails.

You can trim long nails using dog or human nail clippers or small wire cutters. Wrap the bird in a towel so one person can hold it while the other is trimming. You may need to wash the nails as you don’t want to hit the quick. As with cats and dogs, if you trim too far back, it will bleed profusely.

To stop bleeding, coat the nail with corn starch or a ‘stop bleed’ product (a fine powder that helps blood to clot quickly). You can get this from online pet stores and veterinary suppliers – look for ‘wound powder’ or ‘ styptic powder’.

Alternatively, press gauze or a clean cloth to the wound for 5-10 minutes – don’t keep checking it during this time or it won’t form a good clot. If a bird with an injured toenail is having issues walking, it’s possible the toe is broken. The only way to confirm it is with an x-ray.

You can create a splint or ‘shoe’ to hold a broken toe in place until it heals, but you’ll need to keep the bird separate from the flock, and in a safe place until it has healed.

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NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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